It’s the end of March, and we’re now well into the year. With spring coming and projects and activities multiplying in our professional and personal lives, it’s a good time to take a look at the part stress plays in our lives.
In fact, we recently had Dan Lowry, of the Learning FM Podcast, on the Operate Intelligently Podcast, and he had some incredible tips for managing stress in our work and daily lives.
He knows what he’s talking about since he’s the Director of Facilities for Southern Hills Country Club, and he has a background serving in the military and on the police force.
What was so great about what he shared was that these tips are quick, easy and totally doable actions to help you reduce stress.
We’re all familiar with stress, but it might help us to first identify the stress in our lives.
Is it acute and only pops up on occasion? Or is it chronic and something that we’re dealing with most days? And what triggers our stressors?
Dan says we all have three options when we're faced with a stressor:
Accept the stress
Remove yourself from the stressful situation
Control the stressor
If you’re like many of us who want to work on lowering our stress levels and not reacting poorly to stress, Dan has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Keep an activity log- This is basically just a log of everything you need to do (that may be stressing you out), including the date, time and activity description. You can even add in how you feel, how long you think it's going to take and then how much value it's going to give you. This will help you prioritize what you need to get done to relieve stress and help you set your goals.
Set SMART goals- You may have heard of SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely), but they’re a great way to get organized around your specific goals.
Write down your to-do list- This may seem simple, but it can really help. Just write down your to-do list, or use an online tool to do that, so you can prioritize and schedule out what needs to happen first. You may want to start with the quickest tasks and work your way down. You can also set time limits to do specific things (like 15 minutes to check emails to make sure you’re not spending too much time in one area).
Don’t multitask- According to Dan and many studies, multitasking is actually counterproductive and can lead to you not fully completing one thing. When you’re knocking things off your to-do list or accomplishing your goals, focus on one task at a time. Breaking big tasks down into smaller ones can also help you stay focused as you complete things on your list one at a time.
Work in a clean environment- As most of us know, clutter can cause distraction and stress, while getting in the way of us focusing on our work. That’s why it’s great to clean your office or work environment every few weeks or months to make sure it’s promoting a peaceful atmosphere.
Understand your energy cycles- Are you a morning person or night owl or something in between? We all have different energy cycles and best working hours, so it’s a good idea to figure out when you do your best work and fully utilize those times.
Take breaks- Whatever you’re stuck on or feeling stressed about, it may be helpful to take a few minutes to step away from the problem and just go outside for a few minutes, take a walk or go talk to a coworker. When you come back, you’ll often feel less stressed and have more clarity for the task at hand.
Another great way to manage stress is to utilize time management and delegation.
With time management, you should be using a time management tool (Dan likes Microsoft Outlook) to organize your day and break your day into impactful blocks.
Whenever you can delegate tasks to others, do so to help lighten your load and train others. You may want to do this by forwarding emails or requests that come in straight to those who can handle them.
One best practice Dan shared was to block the first 15 minutes of your day to set out your goals and tasks for the day. Then, again at the end of the day, review what you accomplished, move any unfinished tasks to tomorrow and feel confident in your agenda for the next day.
This type of review can help you feel accomplished and ready for what's next, while also closing the day on a good note without leaving you too much to worry about.
Make sure you catch the full conversation about Dan’s stress management tips by listening to the podcast.